BANGOR, Maine — A former Hampden Academy and Husson University soccer standout who has been a subvarsity coach at Bangor High School for the last three years has been promoted to fill the Rams’ boys varsity vacancy in that sport.
Billy Shannon, who coached Bangor’s junior varsity squad for the last two years after one season of guiding the school’s freshman team, replaces Dave Patterson, who ended a six-year tenure with the Rams this spring as he battles lung cancer.
“Billy’s coached in the program since the current seniors were freshmen, so he’s familiar with the program, and he’s done a great job as a communicator, a leader and a mentor,” said Steve Vanidestine, Bangor athletic administrator. “I really like his love of soccer and his demeanor.
“And the truth is he was recommended very highly by coach Patterson,” he added.
Patterson, a two-time Eastern Maine coach of the year honoree, compiled an 81-11-8 record and led Bangor to the 2010 Class A state championship and a second Eastern Maine Class A crown in 2008.
More recently, the Rams have reached the regional semifinals twice in the past three years, including last fall when they finished with a 12-4 record.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I step into this role,” said Shannon. “I certainly wish it were under different circumstances. I can’t express enough what Dave has meant to me and what a mentor he’s been for me, but he had to do what was best for him and his family. … They’re in my thoughts and prayers every day.
“They’re really impossible shoes for me to fill,” he added, “but I’m going to do the best I can.”
Shannon is a 2005 graduate of Hampden Academy where he played soccer, basketball and baseball, earning All-Penobscot Valley Conference status in both soccer and baseball, and he helped lead the Broncos’ soccer team to the 2004 Eastern Maine Class A championship.
He went on to Husson University, where he originally focused athletically on baseball.
But after two years away from soccer, Shannon joined the school’s men’s soccer team, and he went on to captain the 2009 Husson squad to its first NCAA Tournament appearance. He also earned All-North Atlantic Conference first-team honors as well as NAC all-tournament team recognition during his college soccer career.
Shannon graduated from Husson with degrees in sports management and physical education and earned his master’s in sports leadership from Northeastern University.
He served as an assistant men’s soccer coach at Husson in 2010 before joining the Bangor High School coaching staff a year later.
“Since playing in high school and at Husson University and working in sports since I’ve been in college, I knew I wanted to be a high school varsity coach,” said Shannon, who is employed as director of operations for the Seacoast United Blackbear soccer club. In that capacity, he oversees a program that serves youth soccer players from around the region between ages 3 and 18 and also coaches two pre-high school-age teams.
Shannon will be aided in his new duties at Bangor High School by veteran assistant Rams’ coach Don Erb, who did not seek the varsity post after Patterson stepped down.
“I really look forward to having him stay involved in the program and to help me make the transition into the varsity coaching role,” said Shannon of Erb, whom he has known for nearly 15 years.
One of Shannon’s goals is to keep Bangor near the forefront of Class A soccer both in Eastern Maine and statewide.
“I definitely plan on continuing the tradition that has been established here by Dave and the coaches before him,” he said.
Another goal has an even broader perspective.
“The soccer program is there to support the kids’ education, so the first thing is to make sure they’re fulfilling their responsibilities in the classroom,” Shannon said. “We want them to be good students and well-rounded and hopefully playing soccer will help them.
“And on the field we want them to be respectful of teammates, coaches, opponents and officials and respectful of the game.”